Tuberculosis (TB) is predominantly a lung disease and mucosal vaccine delivery (via the respiratory route) is potentially the most effective mode of immunisation against the infection. Dr Reljic is involved in developing and testing of a number of mucosal vaccine candidates for TB that could be used to boost BCG (the current, but largely ineffective TB vaccine).
His work involves the use of several mucosal vaccine delivery systems, including nanoparticles, inactivated bacterial spores, liposomes and self-adjuvanting recombinant immune complexes. The main feature of these new vaccine candidates is that they are designed to target specific cell surface receptors and tissues in the mucosa of the lung, in order to improve vaccine delivery and induce appropriate immune responses.
Dr Reljic is also focused on immunotherapy as an adjunct treatment for TB, especially in drug-resistant disease. This involves the use of Th1 cytokines (ie interferon gamma), human monoclonal IgA antibodies and therapeutic vaccines.
He is the scientific lead and the coordinator of the EMI-TB consortium, a European Union-funded TB vaccine initiative that involves 14 research groups from Europe and Africa. He is also co-chair of the Aerosol and Mucosal Immunity for TB vaccines at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and executive member of the VALIDATE MRC network for complex intracellular pathogens.
Hart P. et al. Nanoparticle-Fusion protein complexes protect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Molecular Therapy 2017; 7;26(3):822-833. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.12.016
Copland A. et al. Mucosal Delivery of Fusion Proteins with Bacillus subtilis Spores Enhances Protection against Tuberculosis by BCG. Frontiers in immunology 2018: 12;9:346. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00346. eCollection 2018
Balu S et al. A novel human IgA monoclonal antibody protects against tuberculosis. 2011; J Immunol. 186:3113-9.